Dark Void - first impressions

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If you don't have any fond memories of Crimson Skies, we have two things to say. First, shame on you for not playing one of Xbox's best games. Second, go download it now - it's part of 360's "Xbox Originals" lineup. Once you have, you'll find yourself immersed in a beautifully crafted alternate world where planes ruled instead of cars and a storyline that brought the gee-whiz sense of adventure so prominent in old westerns to a gaming audience. It was fun, it had a great flight combat system and we can't wait for a sequel. And that's kind of where Dark Void comes in.

It's from many key developers who worked on Crimson, though you'll hardly recognize that at first. Most of the game takes place with your feet firmly on the ground, or at least a few feet above it. Hero Will secures a jetpack early on (after slipping into the Bermuda Triangle and shacking up with some other lost travelers) and proceeds to blast through all kinds of robot-riding aliens (called Watchers), though the jetpack initially is only a "hover" pack. You won't be flying free from the start, but its slow descent does let you climb high and soar right over enemy cover and strike from above, behind and generally any angle you can land.

You eventually obtain the full-on jetpack that propels Will ahead like a humanoid bullet (our greatestRocketeer (opens in new tab)dreams finally realized, it would seem). His arms flap wildly for a second, presumably because he's trying to balance himself with a jet engine strapped to his back, and then you're able to pilot him around. Flying out in the open appeared speedy and simple enough, though there was no hands-on at the event. You can make quick banks left and right (to avoid incoming objects), plus an instant 180 degree turn, but small movements left and right looked out of the question. Keeping your target in sight should be easy thanks to standard radar and lock-on mechanics.

While blasting through the sky, Will can "sky jack" Watcher UFOs and use them to soar through areas with no solid ground to tread(as well as instill an instant sense of Crimson nostalgia). Jacking is accomplished by a "grip system," which basically boils down to "how long can you hold on before losing your grip." It's a bit like Shadow of the Colossus, but also involves God of War-style button presses to keep your bearings. Sky jacking combines the button pressing with the grip setup, with Will dodging the pilot's blasts, ripping open a panel, cracking the cockpit and finally tossing the Watcher out. We hope the initial rush of a successful hijack doesn't go away, as it looks like there'll be many, many opportunities to do so. Once we get our hands on it, we can figure out if the game really makes you feel like a jet-propelled trooper capable of landing on and overtaking all kinds of space-age contraptions.

So, on the ground Will zips and darts around cover almost identically to Gears of War, and in the air he's essentially a projectile looking for a way to land a Crimson Skies-style jet. Does the game bring anything totally unique to the table? Yes and no - yes in that it introduces the concept of vertical cover, and no in that it's still just a new type of cover.

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.